|Sanofi's Katherine Bowdish|
Portal Instruments, a new Boston-based company, secured $11 million for its computerized needle-free drug delivery system via a Series A funding round led by Sanofi ($SNY), Boston-based VC PBJ Capital and a major medical device company. It became only the third company to receive funding under Sanofi's Sunrise Initiative for early stage companies.
"Portal Instruments provides us with a unique opportunity to deliver medicines in formulations that are currently not possible with needle-based devices in a highly controllable needle-free drug delivery system. For patients this may allow them to choose a way to take their medicines if they prefer not to have a needle-based device, or to choose needle-free self-administration at home of some medicines typically delivered in centralized health care facilities," said Katherine Bowdish, Vice President of Global R&D at Sanofi, in a release.
Mechanical engineering professor Ian Hunter, who is the head of MIT's BioInstrumentation Laboratory, is a founder of the company. Portal says its technology is supported by more than 50 patents and that it is ideally suited for administering viscous biologics.
The rise of home healthcare is one of the reasons for the push behind developing non-injectable formulations and technologies that allow self-administration. For example, 3M touts its hollow microstructured transdermal system for intradermal delivery of biologics, which can be used in the home. But Portal wants to go a step further and eliminate needles all together.
According to the website, the technology has medical, animal, agricultural, and cosmetic applications.
Portal is the third to receive the backing of Sanofi's Sunrise Initiative to back potentially game-changing healthcare technology. Sanofi says the investments are not limited by size, but typically range from 3 to 5 years. The other companies in the initiative are Warp Drive Bio, developer of technologies to access drugs hidden within microbes, as well as MyoKardia, focused on the treatment of cardiovascular disease.